Exclusionary governance leaves Lakewood divided

For Immediate Release —

We are grateful to the substantial number of Lakewood citizens who voted to repeal the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. The campaign represented tens of thousands of hours of hard work by citizens who were not paid for their time, but rather were motivated by the desire to see that Lakewood remains a strong, viable community that has the kind of healthcare it truly deserves.

Although the campaign was not successful, the substantial vote against the ordinance demonstrates that officials failed to obtain broad consensus and public confidence, in their decision to close Lakewood Hospital and transfer the assets to a private entity without competitive bidding. The ordinance to close Lakewood Hospital was crafted through closed-door meetings by Lakewood City Council, Lakewood Hospital Association and Lakewood Hospital Foundation. By making decisions behind closed doors, City Council lost sight of what was in the best interests of the citizens of Lakewood. The lack of transparency resulted in a divided community.

Our campaign, unlike opponents’, has never promised that any outcome of Issue 64 would solve all of Lakewood’s healthcare challenges at once. We hoped to defeat a specific measure that actively limits our options for addressing those challenges, and while we did not do so on Tuesday, challenges of access, quality, equity and accountability persist. The duty to find solutions to these challenges must persist as well.

As we move onward following this vote, we look to our public servants to support an open and transparent process to ensure that everyone in our community has access to affordable healthcare. We are committed to uniting our community behind this effort.

For questions and comments, our contact information is below.

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital

Nov. 8, 2016: Vote AGAINST Issue 64

Tuesday, November 8 is decision-day for Lakewood. Please vote against Issue 64!

Key points to remember:

Issue 64 is a vote on the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. If you disapprove of the deal that closed our publicly owned hospital, vote against 64.

We deserve a better deal. The people of Lakewood owned 100% of our hospital and its assets, and the hospital employed almost 1,100 people. Ending up with a health center that someone else owns, and which will employ fewer than 200, is obviously not investment or progress.

Issue 64 includes no plan to replace lost jobs and tax revenues, or to redevelop the hospital property. In fact a noncompete clause will block other hospital systems from ever introducing competing services on that property.

Issue 64 means bare-bones healthcare in Lakewood, and needed emergency care left in question. Most serious emergencies require hospital facilities to treat; health centers and ambulance rides are not substitutes. That’s why Ohio Nurses opposes Issue 64. That’s why Avon is opening a new hospital, not an urgent-care office.

Lakewood can do better. Issue 64 doesn’t guarantee anything to Lakewood, even basic 24/7 ER services. All it guarantees is the noncompete clause that keeps our options limited. The Cleveland Clinic negotiated this because the market for hospital services is competitive. By rejecting the noncompete clause we can benefit from competition and gain services, jobs and better pricing—we can hold an open bidding process for hospital assets, which officials have not done.

Example of Issue 64 on Nov. 2016 ballot
Please vote “Against the Ordinance” on Issue 64

Who is against Issue 64

Who opposes Issue 64?

Independent doctors. Professionals in law and finance.

Ohio Nurses.

Lakewood’s state senator. Respected emeritus city council members, including a former council president.

Progressive reform groups. Labor leaders. Volunteers.

Parents. Students. Retirees. Taxpayers. Homeowners.

The Lakewood Observer‘s publisher.

Thousands of Lakewoodites who have petitioned for repealing the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital.

Business owners. Entrepreneurs.

Authors. Designers. Real-estate professionals.

Basically, people—and more specifically, people who care about keeping Lakewood a strong community.

Please join us and vote against Issue 64.

We Deserve a Better Deal
Stand with us, for our city and our future.

This fall, vote AGAINST Issue 64

This November 8, Lakewood will vote on the deal to close Lakewood Hospital, which will appear on ballots as Issue 64.

Because the Board of Elections assigns issue numbers to cities in the alphabetical order of their names, a number may be reused in multiple years. But Issue 64 in the 2016 election is a new choice: the first and only direct public vote on closing Lakewood Hospital. We have a choice to vote for, or against the ordinance that closed the hospital.

Issue 64 will appear on the ballot as follows:

Ballot language of Nov. 2016 Issue 64To vote against the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital, vote AGAINST the ordinance on Issue 64.

Defeating the deal will send a clear message that Lakewood is not going to settle for second-class status, and that it’s time to reopen our great city to the much better options awaiting us. For more about this choice, visit stronglakewood.com.

November’s referendum: basics

This November 8, Lakewood will hold a referendum on the deal to close Lakewood Hospital.

The referendum is a simple, straightforward vote on the legislation by which city council closed our hospital: for the deal or against it.

The Board of Elections will assign the referendum an issue number in early September. [Update: the deal will be Issue 64.] But the referendum is officially scheduled to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, and the wording is specified by the city charter of Lakewood:

The ballot used when voting upon any ordinance subject to referendum shall state the title of the ordinance to be voted on and below it the two propositions “For the Ordinance” and “Against the Ordinance”.

The deal between City Hall and the Cleveland Clinic to close Lakewood Hospital was passed as Ordinance 49-15. As the ballot is readied over the coming months, Save Lakewood Hospital will ensure that the requirements of the charter are observed and respected. In the meantime the most important thing to keep in mind is:

This November you can vote against the deal to close Lakewood Hospital, by doing just that. Vote “Against the Ordinance” in the referendum on the deal.

Defeating the deal will send a clear message that Lakewood is not going to settle for second-class status, and that it’s time to reopen our great city to the much better options awaiting us. For more about this choice, visit stronglakewood.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: The hospital is already closed. Isn’t it a done deal?

A: The hospital facility still belongs to Lakewood, and the legislation that closed it will be on November’s ballot as Issue 64, for voters to approve or reject. Lakewood can reject it and instead pursue a genuine, open bidding process for new partners to operate our hospital.

Q: Didn’t we already vote on this last fall?

A: No. Last year’s election was to amend the city charter, not to close the hospital. Even if that Issue had passed, the public would still face a vote to approve a closing. (The Board of Elections assigns issue numbers to cities based on their names’ place in the alphabet, and Lakewood issues generally fall in a similar place; therefore the deal will appear on 2016’s ballot as Issue 64.)

Q: If we reject the deal it will cost us more?

A: No. A vote against 64 can improve our options by permitting market bidding for some or all hospital assets, but cannot impose additional costs. Lakewood can’t end up on the hook for debt, because the hospital was not in debt. The city would not have to run the hospital at a loss, either. Lakewood Hospital was never taxpayer-subsidized.

Q: I never used Lakewood Hospital. How does this affect me?

A: The hospital was a major economic engine for our city. It provided over 1,000 good jobs and generated $280 million in annual economic impact. Its loss will affect our city budget, leading to potential tax increases and/or reduced services.

Q: Why would any operator want to be in Lakewood? The hospital was losing money.

A: The hospital was profitable as late as 2014, three weeks before Mayor Summers declared it to be closing. Cleveland Clinic steered patients to other facilities in 2015, manufacturing financial losses. Lakewood is a desirable healthcare market.

Q: Didn’t the city hire a consultant to look for partners to run the hospital?

A: Multiple potential partners have surfaced, despite never being invited by the City.  Officials improperly steered the bidding process, blocking viable operators from the process. Here is the Metro proposal that would have saved the hospital and which city officials buried until attorneys for the people unearthed it in legal proceedings.

Q: Why are people complaining? Fairview Hospital is only three miles away.

A: Fairview Hospital’s emergency room is already experiencing major overcrowding. They have also faced a shortage of inpatient beds in the few months since our hospital closed. These conditions will become even more serious in the face of a health crisis such as flu epidemic.

Q: How could Fairview’s emergency room be overcrowded? We still have an ER in Lakewood.

A: Our emergency room cannot handle serious (yet common) emergencies like bone fractures, heart attack, stroke, appendicitis, and more. The majority of these cases are being sent to Fairview, wasting critical time in transport and creating overcrowding at Fairview. Densely populated Lakewood is a viable market for a hospital.

Q: If voters, in November, reject the ordinance that closed the hospital, what then?

A: Better alternatives are ready and waiting for Lakewood; the next step is to go forward with:

  • removal of restrictions on use of our hospital campus for medical services
  • a qualified consultant to legitimately market our hospital to all potential partners
  • a “right-sized” full-service community hospital and emergency room in Lakewood
  • rejecting the release of liability for past conduct by those who failed to meet contractual obligations to maintain Lakewood Hospital
  • obtaining fair compensation for the proposed medical office building site and other assets

Arguments for starting over on Lakewood Hospital

Addressing Lakewood City Council Monday evening, attorney Gerald Phillips lent his support to repealing ordinance 49-15, which closed Lakewood Hospital, and “starting all over.” Mr. Phillips roundly criticized the ordinance, which will go before Lakewood voters in November.

Mr. Phillips’ statement is republished below, with permission:

The following are examples of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance of the City Council and the Mayor of Lakewood:

I. The complete failure to provide for the waiver of facility fees for Lakewood residents who are unable to pay for them;

II. The complete failure to provide for a guarantee amount of charity care for Lakewood residents; in the past as much as $7 million was provided through Lakewood Hospital; none is guaranteed by the Master Agreement;

III. The complete failure to enforce the breach of the lease agreement by the Lakewood Hospital Association and the breach of the Definitive Agreement by the Cleveland Clinic; no consideration at all was received in light of their material breaches as part of their fraudulent plan to close Lakewood Hospital;

Read More

City council selects a date to select a date

The most recent issue of the Lakewood Observer, released Tuesday, described the Feb. 11 meeting of city council as follows:

Voters will have their say on whether or not Lakewood Hospital should be closed.

But city officials will keep citizens, and the Board of Elections, waiting for now.

These were the only firm conclusions reached at a special meeting of City Council on Thursday, February 11, which stretched more than three hours. Council President Sam O’Leary, Ward 2, called the meeting eight days after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported adequate valid signatures on a petition to repeal authorization to close Lakewood Hospital. Faced with an eventual obligation to perform the repeal themselves, or else allow the referendum, council adjourned without doing either.

A second meeting held Tuesday evening changed little of this. According to cleveland.com, City Council “likely” will deal with the petition on March 7—a further three weeks’ delay. Presumably at that time, council will move on to the issue of when a referendum will take place; how long it will take members to conclude that decision-making process is anyone’s guess.

The Observer’s suggestion, that city officials remain wary of direct and transparent accountability to voters, appears valid.

Obstructionist Council Blows Opportunity to End Public Strife with March Vote

For Immediate Release —

Last night, after a series of unaccounted for delays, Lakewood City Council decided to postpone a March vote to save Lakewood Hospital.

The decision was made at a special council session that was called to discuss placing the issue on the March ballot.

The issue will either be placed in a special election in August, at a cost to taxpayers of between 100,000 and 150,000 dollars, or placed on the November ballot.

The popular conjecture is that council is playing the obstructionist card and purposely delayed the vote, hoping that citizens would forget about it and move on. But the more citizens come to grips with the fact the hospital is closed, the more frustrated they become with their elected officials.

It was with council’s seven votes that the hospital was closed. Pit those seven votes against the 2,686 certified signatures for the referendum to repeal the ordinance, and it is easy to understand that a large and potent movement has begun.

As an ongoing taxpayer lawsuit against city officials and the Cleveland Clinic continues, The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will be setting up forums to educate the public. These forums will carry on until the time that the issue is voted on, be it August or November.

In the meantime, the future of the hospital remains in limbo, and our city remains divided as council missed a golden opportunity to end our city’s strife sooner than later by placing the issue on the March ballot.Read More

High Tide Moment at Special Council Meeting Tonight – Citizens Rally in Front of City Hall

For Immediate Release —

Lakewood City Council has at last fulfilled our committee’s request for a special meeting to consider its response to the citizen’s petition to repeal Ordinance 49-15 that closed Lakewood Hospital.

There is only one way that council can stop the citizen’s referendum from appearing on the 2016 ballot. That is to repeal Ordinance 49-15 by their own accord.

“Anticipation is high as citizens wonder what council will do,” Committee Petition Coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Will they repeal the deal tonight or will they take immediate action to place the deal on the March ballot while there still might be time to do so? Or will council procrastinate and place it on the ballot later this year? The meeting tonight is a high tide moment in the controversy surrounding the hospital issue. The pressure is all on council’s shoulders. We pray for a just conclusion.”

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will hold a rally in front of Lakewood City Hall tonight at 6 PM. The Council meeting will commence tonight at 6:30 PM.

Download as a Microsoft Word file.

For questions and comments, our contact information is below.

Save Lives, Save Jobs, Save Lakewood, Save Lakewood Hospital.

Thank You,

Kevin Young
Media Relations
Save Lakewood Hospital Committee

Hospital Issue Will Be On 2016 Ballot – But When?

For Immediate Release —

One week ago, Lakewood City Council was informed by The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee that a petition to put the hospital issue on the ballot in 2016 would soon be placed in their hands.

With seven days to ponder the issue, council has yet to make a decision.

To make the March ballot, council must call a special session and vote to put it on that ballot. Council’s continued silence will mean the issue is headed to the November ballot, or else a special election which would cost Lakewood taxpayers between $100,000 and $150,000. The Board of Elections can only wait for so long.

This is a big decision and the sooner made, the better for everyone involved. Otherwise, the future of the hospital remains in limbo.

We respectfully advocate that Lakewood City Council assemble in special session today or tomorrow and allow voters to freely choose, in March, what the future of their health care will be.

Read More

Unsure, Lakewood Council Procrastinates While Deadline Looms

For Immediate Release —

The Board of Elections has delivered the certified signatures needed to place a referendum for the future of the Lakewood Hospital on the ballot. By law, the referendum is guaranteed to be up for a vote in this calendar year. It is in the hands of city council to decide when.

“We advocate that the referendum be placed on the March ballot,” said Pam Wetula, petition committee coordinator. “But if council continues to procrastinate and does not meet next week’s deadline set by the Board of Elections, then it will be up for a vote later this year. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to delay big decisions like this. We all hope council makes a decision soon.”

To make the deadline, council must call a special session to vote to place the referendum on the March ballot. If they do not make that deadline then the issue will be placed in a costly special election, possibly occurring as late as August, or wind up on the November ballot.

The closure of the Lakewood Hospital is not a done deal. The very existence of the certified referendum petition triggers a vote that determines the future of the hospital. The sooner the issue is placed on the ballot, the sooner the citizens of Lakewood can freely choose the future of their healthcare.

“The deadline looms,” Wetula added. “Procrastination only perpetuates disunity, dysfunction and delays a chance to heal this community’s wounds.”

Read More

Thursday: fundraiser & special council meeting

This Thursday, Feb. 11, the Save Lakewood Hospital calendar includes two very important events: a fundraiser, and an evening rally at city hall.

First, a fundraiser at Angelo’s Pizza from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Angelo’s will donate 20% of any food or soft drink purchase! Just mention Save Lakewood Hospital with your order, and help fund efforts to overturn the planned closure of our hospital. Angelo’s is located at 13715 Madison Ave.

Second, Lakewood City Council has scheduled a special meeting for to address the citizen petition to overturn the hospital closing. The Board of Elections has confirmed that petitioners collected more than enough valid signatures to require a referendum in 2016. Council must approve the petition, themselves, or else schedule the referendum—but members have remained slow to act.

We invite everyone who supports keeping Lakewood’s hospital open to attend a rally at 6 p.m., followed by Thursday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Help us call on City Council to end the delays. Join us at City Hall, 12650 Detroit Ave.

Download a flier to share about the rally.

Hospital Referendum Process Continues

For Immediate Release —

The process to place a referendum to repeal the ordinance to close Lakewood Hospital on the March ballot is very much alive and continues tonight (February 1st), as The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee prepares to address Lakewood City Council.

The Save Lakewood Hospital Committee will ask council to schedule a special meeting to approve the referendum’s language, to meet a February 9th deadline so it can make the March ballot.

“People on both sides of this issue are anxious to get this vote on the ballot as soon as possible,” petition coordinator Pam Wetula stated. “Our committee members have worked very hard to gather the necessary signatures and The Board of Elections is working equally hard to move the process along as quickly as possible. We hope that City Council matches these efforts and does their part to keep this process on track for a spot on the March ballot.”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Board of Election officials have indicated that they will complete the current phase of the process and have their certification to Lakewood city officials to execute the next phase of the process by Thursday, February 4.

The city council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

Read More

Necessity for a referendum, explained

Citizens’ petitions for a referendum on the planned closure of Lakewood Hospital have been delivered to the Board of Elections. Some inside (and outside) City Hall continue to oppose the idea of a citizen vote on this issue, meanwhile; one petitioner has offered a thoughtful explanation via The Lakewood Observer:

Throughout 2015 Lakewood officials encouraged us to have faith in their handling of Lakewood Hospital. They did so in general terms, often, insisting e.g. on their “due diligence” before finally endorsing a proposal to board up the city’s hospital. But they also made some very specific promises about their obligations as public servants.

In a May 22 letter to MetroHealth, Councilman Ryan Nowlin wrote that “We are… evaluating the nonbinding proposal advanced by the Lakewood Hospital Association and the Cleveland Clinic, and we must do so with respect to any other proposals as well.” Council, wrote Nowlin, was “perfectly free to consider any proposals regarding the future of healthcare in Lakewood, and indeed we are obligated to do so as community stewards if such a proposal is presented.” [Emphases added]

Around the same time, Mayor Summers wrote that “I am duty-bound as mayor to explore every option available” to keep our community-owned hospital operating.

Based on these statements (and a hospital still open after months of warnings), Lakewood went into an election assured that if any possibility existed to keep the city’s hospital, then incumbent leaders would embrace it.

They didn’t.

Read the rest at The Observer.

Lakewood Hospital Issue Can Make March Ballot

For Immediate Release—

It has come to our attention that cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer have posted a headline that reads “Lakewood Hospital referendum too late for March ballot.” This is simply not the case. By submitting our petition with its signatures 9 days ahead of the deadline established in the Lakewood City Charter, the process to place the issue on the March ballot is in motion early. There is still time to for the issue to be placed on the ballot.

We are confident that the competent and efficient staff at The Board of Elections will do everything in their power to see that it does make the March Ballot.

Read More

Referendum petitions delivered to city hall

Joined by members of Save Lakewood Hospital and the local media, a citizens’ committee turned in petitions Thursday morning to allow a March referendum on the planned closure of the city’s hospital.

Petitioners collected more than 3,400 signatures in just over three weeks, frequently in the face of snow and bitter cold. Save Lakewood Hospital spokesman Kevin Young, who addressed media ahead of time, observed that this demonstrates the breadth of concern over a rushed, once-sided deal and the determination of everyday Lakewoodites to stand up for the community.

Acknowledgement of petitions' delivery.
Official acknowledgement.

For more, see coverage at WTAM, cleveland.com, Channel 19 and WKSU.

Referendum updates & next steps

Lakewood citizens are gathering signatures for a fair, direct referendum to approve or reject the planned closure of Lakewood Hospital. Despite the arrival of winter at last, ordinary people continue working to give all of us this chance to be heard.

Wednesday, January 20: take advantage of two open petition-signings. Petitioners will be at Lakewood Park, and Madison Park, from 5 to 7 p.m.

If you are collecting signatures, please contact Pam Wetula soon to turn in the lists you have so far: 440.341.5626.

Everyone can help in preventing a huge loss for the future of Lakewood:

  • Sign a petition: Petitioners are collecting signatures at many locations in Lakewood; you can also contact referendum organizers to arrange a time to sign at your convenience.
  • Help gather signatures: Thank you to all who have completed petition training, please keep up the great work so far!
  • Spread the word: Share information about the referendum and Lakewood Hospital on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and in good old face-to-face conversation.

Signature collection will continue into the second half of January—watch for updates—but the sooner that petitions are signed and turned in the better!

Save Lakewood Hospital campaign continues

For Immediate Release –

Today as the announcement was made that Lakewood Hospital will cease providing inpatient care, we continue to gather signatures for a referendum on the March ballot to save the hospital. There was no open bidding for the hospital deal even though 3 viable health care operators expressed earnest interest in maintaining and improving Lakewood Hospital. Our city taxes will go up and health care for Lakewood and surrounding communities will be compromised by this morally corrupt move to close Lakewood Hospital. We continue our campaign.

Read More

A referendum on Lakewood’s Hospital

City council has voted to liquidate Lakewood’s community hospital at the behest of Cleveland Clinic—but council does not have the final say. Lakewood citizens are gathering signatures for a fair, direct referendum to approve or reject council’s vote. Please support this opportunity for an honest, firm decision on the future of our city:

Signature collection will continue through the first half of January—watch for updates—but like all New Year projects getting started sooner rather than later is best!